Postcards from Sharjah
Postcards from Sharjah captures moments from Sharjah’s oil boom; documenting the city’s architectural optimism through the stories of those who built it. It offers an expanded view into moments of Sharjah’s modernization and considers how the built environment extended into the broader cultural fabric of the emirate. Modern architecture of Sharjah threaded its way through printed journals and educational initiatives, was braided into moments of artistic expression, and into domestic objects and items of quotidian use.
The exhibition shows how mass-printed media and personal photographs may offer a unique interpretation of a city, and also prove to be a valuable documentation tool as the city grows and changes. It also considers how the city was read and navigated by its inhabitants, displaying examples from personal accounts, playful retrospective interpretations, and contemporaneous creative responses to urban change. Turning to both historical facts and imagination, the show will call attention to specific moments of the city’s past and present, and invite viewers to explore key junctures in the development of Sharjah’s built environment.
The display mobilizes multiple mediums, where it starts with a collection of postcards featuring post-boom urban and architectural projects as well as a few original archival drawings and photographs of these projects. Personal photographs and family albums were also a fundamental source to understanding the history of the city, reflecting the shifting identities to which Sharjah aspired between the 1960s and 1980s.
The display format is inspired by a photo studio that operated in Sharjah in the early eighties where its owner and photographer Prem Ratnam developed and produced photographs of Sharjah’s architecture. This installation invites visitors to engage with archival documents and published work simultaneously––we invite you to pick up the book on the display to learn more about these projects.
This exhibition is an extension of Building Sharjah (Birkhäuser, 2021) that tells the story of how modern architecture unfurled across the United Arab Emirates’ third-largest emirate.
Team: Reem Khorshid, Julie Chan, and Annika Babra
Sponsored by Barjeel Art Foundation and the Yale Graduate and Professional Student Senate